Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Keystone Progress Sues Corbett's Office over Right to Know Denial

Keystone Progress (KP) filed a suit in Commonwealth Court today, appealing the Office of Attorney General’s denial of its Right to Know request. KP suit is seeking information on correspondence concerning Attorney General Tom Corbett’s politically motivated suit to overturn the federal healthcare reform legislation.

Keystone Progress has been denied this information in two requests and an appeal of its second denial.

“We are saddened that we have to take the Attorney General to court,” said Michael Morrill, KP’s executive director. “The Office of Attorney General should be above reproach, and should be setting an example for transparency and following the letter of the law. We know that the OAG has been in correspondence with some of the political entities in our suit because we have copies of the correspondence. We just do not know the extent of the interaction. It might be within the bounds of the law, or it could be using the OAG for political purposes. We’re suing Corbett’s office to answer that question.”

Fourteen state attorneys general have filed suit to overturn the Affordable Healthcare for America Act, the federal healthcare reform law. Corbett has repeatedly denied that his efforts are political, despite the fact that he agreed to join the suit even before he had read the healthcare reform law. The lawsuit was filed just seven minutes after President Obama signed the bill into law.

The staff of the attorneys general have been working with the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC). RSLC describes itself as “the only national organization whose mission is electing Republicans to the office of Attorney General, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State and State Legislator.”1 RSLC is organized as a 527 organization which has contributed over $58 million to elect Republicans at the state level. RSLC was Corbett’s largest contributor during his race for reelection as attorney general, giving him $691,000, according to the PA Department of State.2 Keystone Progress has copies of emails from RSLC to OAG staff.

The request seeks all correspondence between OAG and the following:

  • Republican State Leadership Committee
  • Republican Attorneys General Association
  • Republican Party of Pennsylvania
  • Republican National Committee
  • American Justice Partnership
  • Caleb Consulting
  • Tom Corbett for Governor
  • Tim Barnes, Chairman, Republican State Leadership Committee
  • Scott Ward, President, Republican State Leadership Committee
  • Ben Cannatti, Political Director, Republican State Leadership Committee
  • Erin Berry, Associate General Counsel, Republican State Leadership Committee
  • Casey Phillips, Regional Political Director, Republican State Leadership Committee
  • Michael Luethy, Regional Political Director, Republican State Leadership Committee
  • Adam Temple, Press Secretary, Republican State Leadership Committee
  • Robert Sechrist, Director of New Media, Republican State Leadership Committee
  • Michael Steele, Chairman, Republican National Committee
  • Karl Rove
  • Chirag Shah, Campaign Manager for JB Van Hollen WI Attorney General
  • Rob Gleason, Chairman of the Republican Party of Pennsylvania
  • Joyce Haas, Vice-Chair of the Republican Party of Pennsylvania
  • Christine J. Toretti, Republican National Committeewoman
  • Robert Asher, Republican National Committeeman

1 Republican State Leadership Committee website
2Pennsylvania Department of State

Keystone Progress is Pennsylvania’s largest online progressive network with over 200,000 subscribers. Keystone Progress is also a statewide communications network specializing in effective earned media and online organizing to advance progressive leadership and values.

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